NEW YORK: The last two women’s champions were already out of the US Open and now, the 2021 runner-up and another semi-finalist are gone.
Hours before veteran Serena Williams defeated second seed Anett Kontaveit 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-2 on Wednesday, the third-seeded Maria Sakkari was ousted 6-3, 5-7, 5-7 by Wang Xiyu in the second round. Minutes after Serena’s victory, No.14 Leylah Fernandez was knocked off 3-6, 6-7(3) by Liudmila Samsonova, a year after the Canadian lost to Emma Raducanu in the final.
Leylah returned to action only recently, after missing much of the summer with a stress fracture in her right foot. She would have played Serena if both reached the fourth round but knew that it would be difficult, estimating her game was at only about 30%.
“It is hard to get to the highest level, but it is so easy to get back down and that is what is happening right now,” Leylah said. Raducanu and two-time winner Naomi Osaka were eliminated on Tuesday in the first round.
Sakkari reached two Grand Slam semi-finals last year but has had a difficult time backing up her success in 2022, acknowledging that she struggled to handle a higher profile that came with her rise to No.3 in the rankings. “It is disappointing, it hurts, because I was feeling better, I was enjoying myself, feeling good on the court. It was just very disappointing that my level was that low,” Sakkari said.
No.12 Coco Gauff and the 20th-seeded Madison Keys avoided the trouble, setting up a third-round match-up between the Americans. Gauff beat Elena Ruse 6-2, 7-6(4) while Keys outlasted Camili Giorgi 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(6).
In the men’s section, Andy Murray rebounded quickly after dropping the first set to power past Emilio Nava 5-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 and set up a third-round meeting with No.13 Matteo Berrettini. Meanwhile, Nick Kyrgios overcame Benjamin Bonzi 7-6(3), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
RESULTS (SELECTED): Second round: Women: S Williams bt A Kontaveit 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-2; X Wang bt M Sakkari 3-6, 7-5, 7-5; L Samsonova bt L Fernandez 6-3, 7-6(3); O Jabeur bt E Mandlik 7-5, 6-2; J Pegula bt A Sasnovich 6-4, 6-4; C Gauff bt E Ruse 6-2, 7-6(4); M Keys bt C Giorgi 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(6); C Garcia bt A Kalinskaya 6-3, 6-1.
Men: A Murray bt E Nava 5-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-0; N Kyrgios bt B Bonzi 7-6(3), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4; D Medvedev bt A Rinderknech 6-2, 7-5, 6-3; J Draper bt F Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-4, 6-4; C Ruud bt T van Rijthoven 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4